The Pena Palace (Palacio da Pena) is a stunning colourful romanticism castle in Sao Pedro de Penaferrim. It stands on top of a hill in the beautiful Serra de Sintra above the beautiful town of Sintra.
The easiest way to reach the palace is by bus 434 which runs frequently from Sintra town and stops at all of Sintra’s main tourist attractions. Bus 434 is a designated tourist bus that connects all of Sintra's Palaces and Castles, and with a price of €11.50 is the cheapest option to easily reach Pena Palace.
For this €11.50, you can take all of Sintra's buses for 24 hours, but be mindful that demand for this bus is very high, especially during the summer months. The other way to reach the Palace is with your own car, but be prepared to navigate the busy, narrow winding roads up Serra de Sintra and dealing with the issue of trying to navigate the traffic free centre of Sintra ....
You can also travel by taxi or by Tuk Tuk, both of which are a good bit more expensive than bus 434.
The other way to reach the castle is on foot following the Caminho de Santa Maria, a very steep path that brings you slowly uphill. This walk takes close to an hour and can be a bit of a struggle during the summer heat , but will provide you with stunning views along the way.
As it was a few days after New Years Eve, we expected it to be quiet enough at Portugal's most popular tourist attraction. How wrong we could have been. When we disembarked from bus 434, we discovered quickly that Portugal's most popular tourist attraction attracts many visitors year-round.
Buying tickets was effortless. You buy your entrance tickets at one of the automated terminals where you select the time you would like to enter the palace and pay, then await the tickets to be printed.
After having our tickets handed over at the gate, we walked slowly up the hill where we reached the gates of the Palace. Here we joined the queue to enter the castle. Thirty minutes later, we were allowed to enter the palace.
The site where the Pena Palace is located used to be a medieval chapel dedicated to our lady of Pena until the king ordered the built of a monastery.
The great Lisbon earthquake destroyed most of the monastery with exception of the chapel. During this time, Portugal's king Ferdinand 2 acquired the ruined monastery and its surroundings and started the built of the Pena Palace as we know it today.
The main purpose of the Palace was to serve as a summer residence for the king. After his dead, his second wife Elisa Hensler sold the palace to king Luis. In 1889, it was purchased by the Portuguese state and was later classified as a national monument.
The grandeur of the Palace is visible in each of the rooms, from the decadent wall and ceiling decorations to the furniture, no expense was saved in making this a palace to remember.
The exterior is the most striking feature of the Palace, from the blue azulejos to the yellow and red colour scheme, it is an eclectic mix of architectural styles.
While walking through the vast Palace, we admired the chapel, the Royal Dining room, the kitchen and many other rooms. Each of these rooms is decorated with elaborate stucos, painted walls in trompe-l'oeil and stunning tiles,....
The area surrounding the palace is worth a visit as well. The Pena Park is a forested area spreading over 200 hectares of uneven terrain. Within the park are plants and trees from North America, Japan and Australia and New Zealand.
When you walk down through the park along the many paths, you will see the many small mountain rivers and lakes ...
Some of the special plants within the park are sequoia, magnolias, Ginkgo,... The fern garden which includes a huge variety of ferns and tree ferns is a must visit.
About the Author
We are Peter & Dolores De Bie. We love the great outdoors, discovering new parts of the world and writing about our adventures along the Wild Atlantic Way and further afield